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New proposed PHMSA pipeline rule needs more flexibility to improve safety

Sabrina Fang | 202.682.8114 |

WASHINGTON, January 8, 2016 – The American Petroleum Institute today submitted comments on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Safety of Hazardous Liquids Pipelines proposed rulemaking. This followed API President and CEO Jack Gerard highlighting earlier this week in his State of American Energy address that investments in U.S. energy infrastructure are crucial not only for the oil and natural gas industry but also for overall economic growth and consumer savings.

“Safety is our industry’s core value,” said API Midstream Group Director Robin Rorick. “America’s more than 199,000 miles of liquid pipelines transport about 16 billion barrels of crude oil and petroleum products per year at a safety rate of 99.999 percent, and we need to make sure that federal regulations help improve this record, not hamper safety.”

Since October 2010 when Congress first asked PHMSA to issue the rule, industry has succeeded in developing guidelines for operators to improve recognized safety practices. In fact, three new recommended practices were issued in 2015, alone.

“We commend PHMSA’s attempts to improve safety and provide important regulatory certainty for our industry, but we are still concerned that the proposal limits our companies’ ability to use their expertise to manage pipeline operation appropriately,” Rorick said. “Operations vary significantly from pipeline to pipeline, so regulations need to allow for necessary engineering judgment and analysis, and a one-size-fits-all federal approach may create more harm than good. 

“Our industry continues to lead on creating new standards to enhance pipeline safety, and we look forward to working with PHMSA to ensure this new rule works with ongoing industry efforts to achieve our joint goal of zero incidents.”

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s 650 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 30 million Americans.